Art as exchange: Regional access to arts education


QAGOMA Learning’s Art as Exchange program grew from extensive consultation with regional artists, galleries, and art educators from early childhood, primary, secondary and tertiary sectors. Since 2018, three Art as Exchange residencies have taken place: in the Bunya Mountains, on K’gari (Fraser Island) and at the Carnarvon Ranges.

QAGOMA’s Art as Exchange program, which aims to strengthen regional access to arts education, has generated collaboration, proposals and partnerships, commitments and actions. Each iteration takes place over a 48-hour period and involves deep engagement with art and ideas on sites of profound cultural, historical and ecological significance.

RELATED: Art as Exchange blogs

RELATED: Art as Exchange resource is designed to generate informed discussion about, and creative responses to the cultural, ecological, historical and contemporary significance of sites of tremendous importance to Queensland.

SIGN UP NOW: Subscribe to QAGOMA Blog for the latest announcements, acquisition highlights, behind-the-scenes features, and artist stories.

Bunya elders Auntie Lurlene Henderson and Uncle Mal Collinge (Chairman Bunya Peoples’ Aboriginal Corporation – BPAC) welcomed participants to the first Art as Exchange, while Senior Ranger Michael Smith, and BPAC General Manager Paul Dawson led a smoking ceremony underneath a monumental canopy.
Printmaker Jennifer Sanzaro-Nishimura demonstrates the etching process for Leanne Kelly (Co-ordinator, Galleries and Museums Moreton Bay Regional Council), Henri van Noordenburg (Project Officer, Regional Services, QAGOMA) and Patrick Mandell (Art Teacher, Caboolture State High School).

The Jurassic canopy of the Bunya Mountains is known as Indigenous Parliament in acknowledgment of the historical Bunya Gatherings, which hosted ‘people from as far south as the Clarence River in northern New South Wales, west to the Maranoa River and east to Wide Bay.1 The magnetism of the ancient site made for an ideal place to begin Art as Exchange. On the edge of regional council boundaries — each home to galleries, schools and artist studios — we were able to bring together arts workers, educators and artists from Toowoomba, Western Downs, South Burnett, Noosa and Moreton Bay regional councils, along with Uncle Mal Collinge and Aunty Lurlene Henderson (elders representing the Bunya People’s Aboriginal Corporation), Paul Dawson from the Bunya Mountains Murri Rangers Project, and printmaker Jennifer Sanzaro-Nishimura, joining us through Flying Arts Alliance Inc.

Art as Exchange: K’gari participants engaging in a welcoming ceremony provided by the Butchulla Land and Sea Rangers.
Badtjala artist Fiona Foley (centre) led a workshop that saw participants negotiating collaboratively and creatively with red tape.

Art as Exchange then moved from the Bunya Mountains to Fraser Island, where the fresh water of Indigenous Parliament meets the salt water and sand dunes of Princess K’gari (Paradise). Badtjala artist Fiona Foley led the K’gari iteration of the program, where participants from Hervey Bay, Sunshine Coast, Bundaberg, Rockhampton and Gympie regional councils learnt about Foley’s practice, with particular focus on her knowledge of the island itself. The residency began with a smoking ceremony, arranged by the Butchulla Land and Sea Rangers and Elder Aunty Nai Nai Bird, and a welcome from Foley, whose clan are the custodians of the land on which our host venue, Kingfisher Bay Resort, is situated. Foley then led a collaborative workshop.

Uncle Milton Lawton began Art as Exchange: Carnarvon with an invitation to give something of themselves through a symbolic gesture of leaving his boomerang with the group and the property owners.
Artist Dale Harding (Bidjara, Ghungalu and Garingbal peoples) led an artist workshop in the Carnarvon National Park. Out of respect for the cultural significance of the site and in the awareness of mounting conservation issues, the group did not enter Carnarvon Gorge.

Bidjara/Ghungalu/Garingbal artist Dale Harding took Art as Exchange on board with generosity and gravitas, working closely with QAGOMA Learning staff to develop a program he later described as ‘radical’. Harding’s Uncle Milton Lawton, Ghungalu elder Uncle Steve Kemp, and participants from Maranoa Regional, Central Highlands Regional, Banana Shire and Woorabinda Aboriginal Shire Councils, came together at Wallaroo Outback Retreat — a remote venue on contested country, currently owned by proud pastoralists Justin and Pauline MacDonnell. The MacDonnells’ participation in the program added purpose and complexity that, in itself, was a form of localised reconciliation. On a riverbed in Carnarvon Gorge, participants used materials from the site — fresh water and watercolour paint made from local pigment, prepared by Harding — to depict their surrounds.

Art as Exchange has developed into a significant program for QAGOMA Learning. Participating regions have returned to their communities to share what they learned with local students, collaborated across regional boundaries, built on council arts and culture policies, and launched new residencies with possible exhibition outcomes. The relatively simple idea of bringing together leaders in art education from regional Queensland has proved to be catalytic for the communities they look to serve.

QAGOMA Learning will run Art as Exchange twice annually, with the next residency scheduled to take place in far north Queensland.

Terry Deen is Head of Learning, QAGOMA

1 Department of Environment and Science (Parks and Forests), Bunya Mountains National Park: Nature, culture and history, accessed 29 November 2019.

Hear artists tell their stories / Read about your Collection / Subscribe to YouTube to go behind-the-scenes / Know Brisbane through its Collection

Feature image: Artist Dale Harding (Bidjara, Ghungalu and Garingbal peoples) led an artist workshop in the Carnarvon National Park. Out of respect for the cultural significance of the site and in the awareness of mounting conservation issues, the group did not enter Carnarvon Gorge.

Photographs: Bunya Mountains: Joe Ruckli; Carnarvon Gorge: Chloë Callistemon; K’gari: Chloë Callistemon and Henri van Noordenburg


Objects have conversations


As the first guest artist for the Open Studio project at the Queensland Art Gallery, John Honeywill was invited to select artworks from the QAGOMA collection through which to share insights into his practice. As we continue our Open Studio series, we delve into this still life artist and his interest in the relationships between objects and the way that we relate to them. Honeywill views the idea of objects having conversations is something that occurs at an early age and is present in the composition of still life works.

Objects have conversations: John Honeywill

Kirsten Coelho and John Honeywill were both engaged as artists in residence at the Margaret Olley Art Centre at the Tweed Regional Art Gallery. While Coehlo is a ceramicist and Honeywill a painter, they both explore the relationships between objects and the ways that subtle compositional variations can evoke distinct responses from viewers.

Margaret Olley ‘Hawkesbury wildflowers and pears’ c.1973 

Margaret Olley, Australia 1923-2011 / Hawkesbury wildflowers and pears c.1973 / Oil on board / 101.5 x 76cm / Purchased with the assistance of the Members Acquisition Fund 2011 / Collection: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra / © Estate of Margaret Olley

John Honeywill ‘ Jug and artichoke flower’ 2018 

John Honeywill, Australia b.1952 / Jug and artichoke flower 2018 / Oil on linen / 92 x 71cm / Collection: Tweed Regional Gallery / Image courtesy: The artist and Philip Bacon Galleries / © John Honeywill

Honeywill has explored the playful and quirky potential of the still life genre. For instance, during the years of raising his sons Honeywill’s selection of objects, titling of artworks and compositional choices were particularly playful. While some of the humour may go unnoticed, there is an undeniable sense of joy across the artist’s oeuvre.

Watch | John Honeywill

Watch | Kirsten Coelho

Kirsten Coelho, Denmark/Australia b.1966 / Abide 2018 / Porcelain, matte white celadon glaze, iron oxide / Three pieces: 21 x 29 x 22cm (overall) / Purchased 2019. Andrew and Lilian Pedersen Trust / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Kirsten Coelho

A sense of quirkiness: John Honeywill

Honeywill’s selection of artwork from the QAGOMA collection, draws attention to the capacity of contemporary artists to portray the absurdity of our relationship to objects is not often associated with the genre of still life. In Stuart Ringholt’s Double pencil 2009 and Double cigarette 2009 the use of ready-made objects – altered in form and function – echoes the interests of the Dadaists. Honeywill as an artist and educator invites art lovers to consider the fullest scope of still life as a genre that can include the humour of Ringholt and the matchbox references to the Bauhaus presented with intricate detail by Eugene Carchesio.

John Honeywill ‘Tinned fish’ 2009 

John Honeywill, Australia b.1952 / Tinned fish 2009 / Oil on linen / 40 x 30cm / Courtesy: The artist and Philip Bacon Galleries / © John Honeywill

Stuart Ringholt ‘Double pencil’ 2008

Stuart Ringholt, Australia b.1971 / Double pencil 2008 / Painted wood and graphite on wooden presentation box: Object: 0.7 x 10.9 x 0.7cm; presentation box: 4.1 x 16.6 x 5.2cm (complete) / Purchased 2011. Ivy Lillian Walton Bequest / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Stuart Ringholt

Eugene Carchesio ‘Interpreter’ 1993-94 

Eugene Carchesio, Australia b.1960 / Interpreter 1993-94 / Cardboard, paper and typing correction fluid: 40 matchboxes: 6.5 x 4.5 x 3cm (each, approx.); 99.5 x 106.5 x 12.5cm (installed in frame) / Purchased 1995 under the Contemporary Art Acquisition Program with funds from Dr Paul Eliadis through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Eugene Carchesio

A sense of stillness: John Honeywill

While Honeywill’s selection of a Kirsten Coelho’s Abide 2018 and Gwyn Hanssen Pigott’s Three inseparable bowls c.1988-89 speak to his interest in stillness, others like Vida Lahey’s Art and nature 1934 and David Strachan’s Still life flowers and oranges 1967 highlights his appreciation of artists who work with light as a key element in the construction of a still life scene.

The white-upon-white of Lahey’s watercolour is both high in saturation and vivid in radiant colouration. While the green hue of Strachan’s prickly composition is at once intriguing and inhospitable. The interplay of light upon the objects is what sets the scene and enables viewers to experience something more than a technical representation of forms occupying space.

Watch | While Honeywill

Vida Lahey ‘Art and nature’ 1934 

Vida Lahey, Australia 1882-1968 / Art and nature 1934 / Watercolour over pencil on cardboard / 52.5 x 60.6cm / Gift of the Queensland Art Fund 1950 in memory of Miss Madge Roe (1891-1938) / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © QAGOMA

David Strachan ‘Still life flowers and oranges’ 1967

David Strachan, Australia 1919-1970 / Still life flowers and oranges 1967 / Oil on composition board / 52 x 64.5cm / Gift of Julie O’Duffy in memory of Dr John and Mrs Rita O’Duffy through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation 2012. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Estate of David Strachan

Minimal space: John Honeywill

The impact of light upon a scene is as much about the subject as it is the space around the objects – the background, the in-between, the negative space.  A balance of harmony and tension exists between light, colour, form, ground, shadow and reflection across the entirety of a painting’s surface.

While considering the control required for John Honeywill to execute a well-balanced painting that leaves open a generous amount of negative space, there is value in learning from a printmaker to be influential to this aspect of his aesthetic.

Marigolds 1975 by David Rose is one such work by the printmaker Honeywill looked to as a point of reference for embracing minimal space. Rose allows for the chance imperfections of printmaking room to play out across the vast open field surrounding the marigolds.

The presence of minimal space as a key visual element in still life can be grasped across mediums. Be it a print, a watercolour, an oil painting or meticulously spaced ceramic forms, the gravitas of minimal space is on display in John Honeywill’s selections.

Watch | While Honeywill

David Rose ‘Marigolds’ 1976

David Rose, Australia b.1936 / Marigolds 1976 / Etching on BFK Rives paper / 60.6 x 45.1cm (comp.) / Purchased 1976 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © David Rose

Reading List
For Open Studio, John Honeywill selected these books on the artists who inspired him. To read, research or learn more about these artists, visit the QAGOMA Research Library.

Laura Mattioli and others. Giorgio Morandi: Late Paintings. David Zwirner, New York, 2017.
Paul Hills. Brice Marden. Rizzoli International Publications, New York, 2018.
Donald Woodman. Agnes Martin and Me. Lyon Artbooks, New York, 2016.
Chris Bedson. Euan Uglow: Sargy Mann. John Rule, 2017.
Michael Hawker and others. Margaret Olley – A Generous Life. QAGOMA, Brisbane, 2019

Watch | Meet John Honeywill

QAGOMA Research Library

The QAGOMA Research Library is located on Level 3 of the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA). Open to the public Tuesday to Friday 10.00am to 5.00pm. visit us in person or explore the online catalogue. Access to special collections is available by appointment.

Featured image detail: Vida Lahey Art and nature 1934 


The artist’s practice


We continue our Open Studio series of blogs to explore the artist’s practice and delve into the processes and ideas that drive the artist to create an artwork. Still life artist and art educator John Honeywill explores the studio as an essential site for housing ideas, images and objects.

Pick up clues and tips about how the artist experiments, manipulates and refines materials and processes. Open Studio is open daily and includes a range of onsite programs for creative activities and broader learning.

John Honeywill / Jug and kangaroo paw 2019 / Courtesy: The artist and Philip Bacon Galleries / © John Honeywill


Ideas for painting can come in many ways.  Still life artist John Honeywill has found inspiration in the work of masters and contemporaries, ideas in children’s literature, objects observed in passing, gifts from friends, vessels and forms from work, travels and home.

Watch | John Honeywill


John Honeywill shares with QAGOMA significant details that saw his process, subject matter and composition shift over time. Having laboriously painted from life early in his career, Honeywill began to work from photographs following time in Italy where the lasting vibrancy of renaissance painting inspired him to embrace colour and opened challenges of documenting compositions of vibrant organic subject matter before decay.

‘I started photographing my still life subjects out of necessity, if you are going to paint flowers over many weeks, the flowers will die, and it  became liberating’.

Watch | John Honeywill


John Honeywill’s use of photograph enables him to tinker, pause and make discerning selections – a process he’s termed verification.

‘I leave my subject for a period of time, and go back and look at it, not all subjects deserve to be painted’.

Watch | John Honeywill


Having worked meticulously to decide upon an image to paint, John Honeywill chooses to work from an imperfect print out of his chosen photographed composition.

‘Printing my images is liberating, as I can go where ever I want with it, ignoring certain details’.

Watch | John Honeywill

Draw and Paint

John Honeywill is a painter who’s processes are time-consuming and measured. He layers colour to form very deliberate relationships between background colours, objects, light, shadows and reflections.

Watch | John Honeywill

The mind wanders

What do you think about when you paint – colour, tone, complementary colours, minor adjustments?

John Honeywill discusses examples of the ideas that enter his mind as he paints that shed light on how ideas of otherness are present in his work (a rocky road as a mountainous scape, or a merengue as a floating form).

Watch | John Honeywill

When a painting is finished

Distance, time, close looking, not looking and relooking, are all part of the final steps in the process of resolving an artwork. Does the painting capture the feeling and mood you are after? John Honeywill adjusts tonal work, adds touches of colour, or adjusts elements to add tension.

Watch | John Honeywill

Reading List
John Honeywill selected these books on the artists who inspired him. To read, research or learn more about these artists, visit the QAGOMA Research Library.

Featured image: John Honeywill painting in his studio


Art as exchange: Arts learning for all Queenslanders


Art as Exchange brings together artists, teachers and arts workers for a series of workshops as part of QAGOMA’s commitment to arts learning for all Queenslanders. Terry Deen and Henri van Noordenburg have travelled across the state to visit community arts organisations, art classrooms and regional art galleries to discuss the success stories, opportunities and challenges for arts education in regional and remote areas.

RELATED: Art as Exchange

SIGN UP NOW: Subscribe to QAGOMA Blog for the latest announcements, acquisition highlights, behind-the-scenes features, and artist stories.

Kingaroy State High School students with Terry Deen (back row, right) / Photograph: Henri van Noordenburg
Kingaroy State High School students with Terry Deen (back row, right) / Photograph: Henri van Noordenburg

QAGOMA Learning in Regional Queensland

Arts learning is a lifelong endeavour and an essential ingredient in building creative communities. QAGOMA Learning is reinventing how we deliver regional workshops, and we want to increase our participation in the ever-changing landscape of arts education in regional Queensland. Through the Art as Exchange program, QAGOMA Learning is working with regional artists, teachers, arts workers and volunteers to support and strengthen arts and cultural learning in regional Queensland.

Between March 2017 and June 2018, Henri van Noordenburg (Project Officer, Regional Services) and I travelled to 28 galleries in regional centres across Queensland, hosting 16 round table discussions on the topic of art education and 12 digital storytelling workshops for high school students. These discussions and workshops provided a useful perspective on some of the issues affecting communities beyond metropolitan Brisbane, including the perceived value of the arts, limited funding and availability of arts spaces, and access to professional learning opportunities.

The undervaluing of the arts and art education was of primary concern, and participants spoke with a sense of urgency about their perception of the arts as stagnating, regressing or struggling to evolve. Many view the problem as stemming from a common lack of awareness about the positive economic, social and educational impact that results from sustained investment in art and culture. This was particularly evident in instances where participants felt that the arts are not supported by councils and school administrators, and where there was a perceived lack of relevance for the arts in the daily lives of the broader community.

Tambo State High School Students reviewing the final cut of their digital story with their teacher / Photograph: Henri van Noordenburg
Tambo State High School Students reviewing the final cut of their digital story with their teacher / Photograph: Henri van Noordenburg

The availability of resources — including art materials, venues and staff — is another factor that was consistently raised as a fundamental barrier to arts education. As we travelled further inland, it was striking to experience how communities are navigating constrained access to the most basic resources. In Mount Isa, for example, the volunteer-run pottery group Arts on Alma pays as much in freight as they do for clay. In Emerald, students travel an hour or more each way to get to school. In Tambo and Dalby, the scarcity of reliable technology means that digital modes of making art and sharing resources are often in the too-hard basket. In Charleville, a group of volunteers who have rallied for a decade to realise their impressive vision for a regional art gallery are now only missing a staff member, without whom their access to touring exhibitions is limited. Regardless of age, the greatest degree of urgency around access to arts education is felt in communities experiencing economic, environmental and social upheaval.

Professional learning opportunities are a linchpin in sustaining creative communities. When leaders of arts education in regional communities can access rigorous research and development opportunities, they are more empowered to mentor, teach and build networks within and beyond their own region. Receiving ongoing support enables communities to thrive amid a mix of successful annual arts events, a strong arts curriculum across primary, secondary and tertiary sectors, and productive relationships with Indigenous communities and local arts associations.

At the centre of all regional workshops is the Gallery’s Collection. Alongside the round tables, we delivered digital storytelling workshops with high school students that challenged their understanding of storytelling and portraiture through analysing selected portraits by Abdul Abdullah, Leah King-Smith, Christian Thompson, Wedhar Riyadi and William Yang. After reflecting on their initial interpretation of the artworks, students worked in small groups to create two-to three-minute digital stories that reflected something of themselves and their regional context. Each workshop concluded with screenings of the final videos so that students could view and discuss each other’s work. Along the way, we were also able to visit a handful of senior art classrooms where we were fortunate enough to talk with students about their art assessment and their future career ambitions.

QAGOMA’s commitment to arts learning for all Queenslanders — and responding to the needs of communities in regional and outer metropolitan areas — is a proud legacy of the Queensland Art Gallery, and another marker in our leadership as a State Gallery that is meaningfully engaged with regional audiences. Building on the roundtable discussions, workshops and digital stories, QAGOMA Learning is now developing a new, long-term model for Art as Exchange. Set to begin in the Bunya Mountains in October 2018, the ongoing series of regional workshops will continue to bring together artists, teachers and arts workers to strengthen and advocate for all-ages arts learning in regional, rural and remote Queensland.

Terry Deen is Head of Learning, QAGOMA

Subscribe to YouTube to go behind-the-scenes / Hear artists tell their stories / Read more about your Australian Collection / Know Brisbane through its Collection


Design Tracks: Reconciling Futures


Education is a key player in bridging gaps and reconciling histories with futures. Like-minded thinkers in the Cultural Precinct are combining resources and investing time into the future of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and design.

Shawn Davis-Abra testing designs on the Fish Lane chalkboard. Photography by Katherine Ogg (Gilimbaa)

QAGOMA Learning, Gilimbaa: an indigenous creative design agency, the State Library of Queensland’s kuril dhagun and Asia Pacific Design Library, along with the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) are working with Queensland schools and teachers to develop Design Tracks: a program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander senior secondary students who are interested in pursuing pathways in the fields of education, art and design.

BLOG7Design Tracks -GA5A7617
Waynead Wolmby was thrilled to see the work of Joe Ngallametta from his home town of Aurukun on display in ‘Everywhen, Everywhere’ at the entrance to QAG / Joe Ngallametta, Australia 1945-2005, Thap yongk (Law poles) 2002-03, Carved milkwood (Alstonia muellerana) with synthetic polymer paint and natural pigments, Commissioned 2002 with funds from the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation Grant © The artist

Shawn Davis-Abra and Jenna Lee (Designer, Gilimbaa) discuss representing Country through design. Photography by Katherine Ogg, Gilimbaa

A core aim of Design Tracks is to be student-led. So to begin the story a group of young people were invited to create the Design Tracks logo and brand identity. The first two-day session was about Shawn Davis-Abra, a young man who embodies the aspirations of Design Tracks. Within a combined senior visual art class of Year 11 and 12 students, he was the only one in his final year. He’s now in his first year at Griffith University studying Art Education. Shawn is both creative and generous, a talented illustrator and a Kirra Beach lifesaver.

left to right: Terry Deen (Head of Learning, QAGOMA), Amanda Hayman (Manager, kuril dhagun), Elisa Carmichael (Exhibition Curator, kuril dhagun), Shawn Abra-Davis (Design Tracks logo designer) Photography by Katherine Ogg, Gilimbaa

Over two days in mid-March, Shawn collaborated with designers at Gilimbaa’s Design Bank offices and visited curators, artists and educators from across the Cultural Precinct. Working through Gilimbaa’s ‘fish trap’ design process, Shawn combined two of his designs into one vision. He brought together traditional motifs within geometric shapes bound by radial symmetry. Importantly, he embedded flexibility into the logo, making each shape a space for the creative input of a small group of students who would soon be invited to connect with Design Tracks at the second logo design session.

BLOG4-Design Tracks -GA5A7680
Shawn Abra-Davis drawing inspiration from Waynead Wolmby’s painting technique. Photography by David Williams, Gilimbaa

April brought new voices to the conversation. Indooroopilly State High School, Marist College Ashgrove, Lockyer Valley District State High School and the Queensland College of Art brought together students into a network of connections to Country, including Cherbourg, Aurukun, the Torres Strait, Wakka Wakka (Bundaberg region) and Larrakia (Darwin). The two days established space and time for each student to reflect on their own track before mapping out a collective track with each other and a network of Indigenous and non-Indigenous mentors.

BLOG5-Design Tracks -GA5A7572
Anni Dorante, Raven Jacobs and Kieran Simpson exploring ‘Everywhen, Everywhere’ at the Queensland Art Gallery. Photography by David Williams, Gilimbaa

In representing themselves and their country, students explored mark-making and developed an improvised palette of pattern, rhythm, texture and colour. By drawing and piecing disparate elements together the group produced a cluster of possible compositions. As a result of the student’s collaboration, Shawn’s logo design came to life and in the process, so did Design Tracks. Creative collaboration enabled these young artists to connect to Country and to each other, to learn about community and to get excited about the future.

BLOG6-Design Tracks -GA5A7782
Mackenzie Lee and her fellow Design Track creatives combining, testing and refining logos on the Fish Lane chalkboard. Photography by David Williams, Gilimbaa

Terry Deen is Head of Learning, QAGOMA

Subscribe to QAGOMA YouTube to go behind-the-scenes / Watch video on Indigenous Australian Art / Read more about your Australian Collection